As a territory and not a state, with only nine delegates to the Republican National Convention, the Virgin Islands do not appear to be major players in the GOP presidential nomination process.
But Newsmax has learned that Republicans in the Virgin Islands plan to defy tradition and the calendar to select their delegation to the national convention on Feb. 25.
This makes it the fifth site in the delegate-hunting process next year — right after the Iowa caucuses (Jan. 15), the New Hampshire primary (Feb. 6), the Nevada Republican caucuses (Feb. 8), and the South Carolina primary (Feb. 24).
The Feb. 25 date will be formally set at a meeting of the Virgin Islands' Republican Committee on Oct. 1, GOP sources told Newsmax.
The delegation to the national convention will be selected by a caucus at which any of the roughly 2,000 registered Republicans on the Virgin Islands may attend. Six delegates will be selected, with three other automatic delegates consisting of the state party chair and the Virgin Islands' Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman.
The voting will be through the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) that was used in Virginia's state convention in 2021 that nominated winning gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin over six opponents.
Under the system, delegates will vote and, if no candidate wins a majority on the first ballot, the lowest-performing candidate will be eliminated and second-choice votes for that candidate will be counted on the next ballot.
The process will continue until one of the presidential hopefuls gets a majority and that candidate will get the support of the full nine-member delegation to the convention.
Candidates have signaled they are taking the suddenly early Virgin Islands caucus seriously. So far, former President Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have formally entered the contest for delegates, and at least three others are expected to do so shortly.
"A territory that has been participating in national Republican politics since the 1950s and largely overlooked by national politicians is going to play when it counts and be relevant to the nominating process," Virgin Islands GOP Executive Director Dennis Lennox told Newsmax. "It's mind-boggling that all of the state parties are not willing to get in and exert their own self-interests. By not doing so, they only act in the interests of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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